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Ole Miss at the 2020 NFL Draft: Scottie Phillips will run by you or run you over

Scottie Toddy get your money.

Mississippi v Missouri Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images

Scottie Phillips - Running Back

Ellisville, Miss. native Scottie Phillips came to Ole Miss by way of Jones County Junior College. As a senior in high school he ran for more than 1,600 yards with 22 touchdowns and ranked fifth in the nation with 1,212 yards as a freshman at Jones College. In his sophomore season he received All-MACJC South First Team accolades and was rated as high as a four-star junior college recruit by ESPN.

When Phillips got to Oxford, he hit the ground running. He was named SEC Offensive Player of the Week after he recorded 204 yards and two touchdowns in his debut against Texas Tech, making him the eighth Ole Miss running back to surpass the 200-yard rushing mark in a single game.

He made 10 starts at running back in 2018 and despite missing most of the last two games due to injury, ranked fifth in the SEC with 14 total touchdowns and third in the conference with 12 rushing touchdowns.

Phillips began 2019 with two 100+ yard games in the first three weeks, but his season was again marred by injury and his younger backfield counterparts took over the bulk of carries. He played in the NFLA Collegiate Bowl and also competed at the NFL Combine.

Measurables:

Height: 5-foot-8

Weight: 209 pounds

Hand: 8 1/2”

Arm: 29 3/8”

NFL Combine Results:

40 Yard Dash: 4.56 seconds

Vertical Jump: 30.0 inches

Bench Press: 29 reps

Broad Jump: 114 inches

3 Cone Drill: 7.4 seconds

20 Yard Shuttle: 4.53 seconds

Positives:

A compact base and beefy upper body make Phillips a force to be reckoned with in one-on-one tackle situations, while his quick feet and open-field burst give him the separation to break a run to the house. He put his strength on display at the Combine with position-leading reps in the bench press.

On the gridiron, his loose hips and lateral spring allow him to find the hole, while his fast feet can breakdown defenders and elude them in space. On this play in his first game as a Rebel, Phillips takes the hand off for the counter, plants his left foot hard, swivels his hips and cuts back through the wide open zone. A lame linebacker steps up and tries to wrap at the waist, but Phillips shakes him with a quick juke and fast footing.

What sets Phillips apart from other running backs of his size and agility is his vision. Here against South Carolina, he is headed for the C gap with room to run but recognizes the right guard pushing down on the defensive tackle, disrupting his intended running lane. To counteract the shift in protection, Phillips does not give up on the play and instead makes a quick left-right jump cut to avoid the traffic and put himself back on path. He finishes off the run by laying out the safety trying to make a play, seemingly unfazed. When a defender challenges him, Phillips keeps his pad level low and doesn’t open himself up to big hits.

His combine 40 yard dash time might not show it but if Phillips finds space, he has deceptive speed once he gets rolling. Phillips was at full strength and factored more heavily into the backfield mix early in his 2019 campaign. Exactly halfway through the season he went for 62 yards on 11 carries against Vanderbilt. Although it’s only a 24-yard scamper, this run against the Commodores showcases his ability to get in front of a defense. He shows patience in the backfield, slips through the first level and simply out-runs the middle and weak-side linebackers in pursuit.

If he isn’t able to breakaway, Phillips will still find a way to eat up yardage and he rarely comes to a stop as a runner. His most significant carry came on this against Arkansas last season where he has a burst up the middle but the defenders get just enough to slow him down. His legs keep churning, the stride doesn’t break and he drags two Razorbacks into the end zone for six. It also shows his ball security, which is about as safe as it comes.

While his acceleration burst is most notable, he also possesses home-run speed. This wheel route against Kent State shows him get to the edge and break one down the sideline.

Phillips only caught a total of 18 passes over his two years at Ole Miss, so while the tape is limited, it shows consistent soft hands and firmness pulling the ball to the body. Locked up in one-on-one coverage against a Texas A&M linebacker, he creates enough separation and hauls in an over-the-shoulder throw reaching past the defender.

When Phillips isn’t getting the ball, he is a strong pass blocker willing to do the dirty work with a good sense of where to look and who to help.

Negatives:

Something of concern with Phillips is his durability, after missing chunks of the season in his only two years on the collegiate level. He has recovered in both instances and returned to a productive player, but seemed a step slower and slightly heavier in 2019 than in 2018. At the eighth percentile in height and length, his undersized frame also brings questions as to how well he will translate to the next level.

His vision and bounce are both his greatest strength and greatest weakness. There are times where he tries to get to the edge and score down the sideline when he should stay inside, and his patience between the tackles can lead to indecision.

As a pass protector, while the fundamentals are there, he needs to work on staying balanced and keeping a firm base as linebackers and edge rushers with more momentum and size crash down on the blitz.

Bottom Line:

Phillips’ size and limited pass production will keep him from being an every-down back in the NFL, which will cause him to drop to the later rounds of the NFL Draft. He hits holes hard and fast with a bounce to him that could prove valuable to a team looking for a change-of-pace back.

For Phillips to be drafted in the fifth round or earlier would be unexpected, but not impossible. For him to go undrafted entirely would be equally as surprising, but make him a top priority as a free agent. He has more upside than down and has the numbers to back it up when fully healthy. The 2020 running back draft class is thin, and Phillips could be selected anywhere from the late forth round to seventh— more than likely to be drafted toward the end of day 3 or sign as an undrafted free agent.